Several weeks ago I was contacted by a rep from Beachbody, asking if I’d be interested in voluntarily browsing through some of the company’s in-development products. I really dragged my feet on this one, mostly because, personally, I have no interest in the company’s existing catalog.

There’s no doubt that Beachbody’s products (e.g., P90X, Insanity) are wildly popular and effective, but for someone like me who is trying hard to explore more of the “mind” and “spirit” elements of the mind-body-spirit trifecta (aaaaand who has a torn hip labrum), the notion of groaning and grunting my way through something titled “The Asylum” seemed to fall just slightly beyond my boundaries of comfort.

(No offense to Beachbody sensation Shaun T., a fellow Rowan University alum. I’ll admit it’s kinda cool to see someone you danced with in college rise to fitness stardom.)

However, of the three Beachbody programs in the pipeline that came into my inbox, there was one that stood out for me:

Tai Cheng

I clicked the link cautiously, afraid that what I hoped was going to be somehow related to tai chi would actually end up being some sweaty, teeth-grinding hybrid of my beloved low-impact martial art and, say, the muscle-ripping CrossFit.

I was pleasantly surprised. One of the first quotes on the website’s accompanying video, from who I am assuming is Beachbody CEO Carl Daikeler, is “What about training that’s NOT about extreme?”

Not extreme? You mean no veins pulsing through my forehead, no teeth gnashing? My interest was piqued.

Daikeler went on to tell an anecdote about his father, who had hip replacement surgery. “I had nothing in our catalog I could provide to him,” he confessed. With that concern in mind, Daikeler aimed to develop a program that both seasoned athletes and once-sedentary individuals or those recovering from injury could benefit from, a program using one of the oldest fitness regimens in the world: tai chi.

As Daikeler spoke, Tai Cheng’s namesake/creator Dr. Mark Cheng–a martial arts master trainer, traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, and physical therapy-based corrective exercise expert–demonstrated the Yang style of tai chi in the foreground. His movement was utterly hypnotic and dance-like. My first reaction was, “I wanna move like him, sign me up now!” I know I’m only in the sixth week of my own weekly tai chi class, but I had this silly impression that I moved with grace. Then I saw Cheng’s demonstration, and now I feel more like a cactus tumbling through a sandstorm than seaweed dancing through water, which is what Cheng appears to be.

I like that Beachbody is promoting this program for a full spectrum of fitness abilities and not stereotypically equating tai chi with older or less active individuals (Daikeler reports that his focus groups included people ages 18 to 80). The videos here are short snippets about how Tai Cheng can benefit Insanity, P90X, and TurboFire fans, as well as everyday gals like me who want to move with precision, grace, and control, while also reaping the mind-calming effects of the ancient martial art. Soundbytes that stood out for me in the introductory video were “developing exquisite control in proprioception” and “better stability, better control, and better performance.” Sounds a little like yoga, huh?

Tai Cheng is slated to become available sometime in this first quarter of 2012, and while I am impressed with the product and commend Beachbody for expanding its demographics, this isn’t to say I’m going to follow through and invest in it. I am a much better student when part of a live class, and unless I’m trying to soothe a backache through Viniyoga, DVDs just aren’t my thing. I feel a bit ADD when standing in front of a TV screen, and since Tai Cheng is a comprehensive 90-day “program,” it is very likely I would never steadily stick to the 3-month plan. However, if it’s something one could do, say, once or twice a week, then perhaps I’ll be more open to the concept. For people who crave routine and a “graduation” from a fitness program, then Tai Cheng could be their theng…err, thang. 🙂

Speaking of tai chi, did you know that Saturday, April 28 is World Tai Chi Day? My sister and I plan to attend an event at a local fitness center that will feature demonstrations and group participation activities, plus some tai chi sword forms!

Note. I was not paid/compensated or asked to write this post and have no vested interest in Beachbody or Tai Cheng.

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